Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Sam McFarland, John O'Connor, Carl Martray

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The theoretical and empirical relationships of moral behavior and moral judgment to personality were reviewed. Kohlberg's moral development theory and Fromm's character development theory provided the integrating organization for the review of nineteen personality variables examined with six moral judgment instruments.

The Moral Judgment Scale, the Sexual Moral Judgment Scale, the Objective Moral Judgment Scale, and the Measure of Moral Values were administered to eighty adult students. Four problems were tested: (1) psychometric comparisons of the four moral reasoning instruments, (2) a test of a trait theory of moral character, (3) a test of increased self-actualization with moral development, and (4) a test of a structural model of moral reasoning and character.

Comparison of the MJS and SMJS essentially replicated the findings reported by Gilligan, et al (1971). Analysis of the OMJS revealed that its reliability was inadequate for research purposes and failed to parallel the MJS scores. The MMV possessed substantial reliability and its scores paralleled MJS scores. The MMV scores failed to statistically distinguish the moral stage classifications.

The test of a trait theory of moral character involved analyzing the POI and 16 PF subscale scores for the moral stage groups on the MJS. This analysis failed to reveal either a substantial number or consistent set of significant findings. The trait theory was rejected as being inadequate to explain moral development.

Analyses of POI scores by moral stage groups indicated that self-actualization did not significantly increase with moral development. MJS stages 3 and 5 individuals possessed the most consistent set of high POI scores. Moral development as a concomitant construct of an increase in the self-actualization construct under examination was rejected.

A factor analysis of the POI and 16 PF scores was further examined by a discriminant analysis with the MJS moral stages as the a priori groups. This analysis revealed two significant dimensions which distinguish the moral stage groups: ego strength - superego strength, and conventionality. Stage 2 subjects showed the lowest superego strength scores, the highest ego strength scores and the highest conventionality scores. Stage 3 individuals had scores on all three dimensions between those of the stage 4 and 5 subjects. Stage 4 individuals had the highest superego strength scores and the lowest ego strength scores. Stage 5 subjects possessed a balanced proportion of ego strength and superego strength with the least amount of conventionality.

This model of character predicted over 86% of all subjects correctly into Kohlberg's three primary levels of moral reasoning: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. The prediction rate of the model remained significantly higher than chance when five stages of moral judgment were used. This evidence supported the conclusion that there is a significant characterlogical component in the development of adult moral reasoning.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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